Small communities combine to celebrate David Williams
UNION MILLS — There were cheerleaders along the sideline and a full student section behind the south basket.
The fans wore mostly blue and red, and the officials wore their black and white stripes. There were concessions for sale in the hallway next to the gymnasium.
But outside the arena — rather than a cold December night — was a drizzly, overcast August afternoon that began to lean toward sunny around the time of tip-off.
And that’s because this was no ordinary Indiana high school basketball game. In fact, the players were no longer high schoolers.
This was two communities coming together to honor a friend.
David Williams, 19, a 2016 South Central graduate was killed in an off-road vehicle accident during the early hours of July 23.
On Friday, alumni of the Satellites and the La Crosse programs came together for a friendly memorial game. South Central technically scored more points during the four 10-minute quarters, but after the final buzzer the number 20 — Williams’ jersey number — showed on both sides of the scoreboard.
“It was a great turnout. The community did great,” Marcus Walker, a 2014 South Central graduate who organized the game, said. “Coach Boston (Tucker, of La Crosse) and Coach Cooper (Husmann, of South Central) did a great job putting the teams together.
“Seeing the crew that came together was excellent. I think it brought the whole community together, and we got rid of our rivalry. I don’t think there’s any more of that.”
The teams wore identical T-shirt jerseys during the game that honored Williams, South Central in red and La Crosse in blue. Shirts signed by both teams were presented to Williams’ parents, along with flowers.
“I don’t know if I can even begin to explain — everybody had been just absolutely amazing,” Jamie Killin, Williams’ mother, said. “It has helped us get through the most difficult time of our life.
“When you come from a small community, there’s always good and there’s always bad. I never in a million years would have expected all of this generous love and support from everybody. And it helps to know that our son was loved, and our families are loved. We stick together through tragedy.”
Killin herself is a graduate of South Central, and works for the school system as a bus
driver. Before Friday’s memorial game, the last time she had been inside the South Central gym was for her son’s funeral.
She played no part in putting the event together and, aside from opening up the gym, few school administrators played more than a minor role. It was all set up by the alumni.
“It was something they felt they needed to do, to get them through it,” Killin said. “I think it has helped them tremendously. If not, they were probably going to bust — especially Marcus Walker. He’s got the kindest heart.
“All of these kids have kind hearts. They needed something to keep them busy. I think it was awesome for them to come together in a noncompetitive (setting). It was amazing, and to dedicate all of this to our son — I can’t even explain, I can’t give the words.”
The game itself was largely a sloppy affair as the former high school basketball players quickly realized their endurance and skills had diminished since graduation. But the point of the contest was to be a fun way to memorialize Williams and to be entertaining. It was loosely officiated, and only one person kept track of violations.
“I fouled out,” Walker said, laughing. “I did foul out.”